Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Home is where the growth is for Asia

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Marcus Gee in today’s Globe and Mail is saying the same thing I have been saying at anti-port expansion, anti Gateway rallies for some time. We know that both consumer demand in US has been falling as a direct result of the mortgage crisis and falling house prices. Imports of consumer goods through US ports have been going down for the last two years – actually that may be three now, given the length of time I have been reporting this. It is clear that China, Taiwan and South Korea are all going to have to find replacement markets – and in China that obviously means turning Chinese from savers to consumers. The general liberalisation of investment is already producing a sizeable middle class who are buying cars, and indeed Beijing has stppoed trying to keep up with increased traffic and like Shanghai is investing in transit instead. (They seem to be faster learners than Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell.)

The Gateway was always based on a set of very dubious assumptions – one cannot call them forecasts. And in any event they were not the real reason for all the roads, that was just spin. They have always wanted to build more roads, because that means ever more suburban sprawl development. The sort that they think breeds right wing voters.

The port expansion was desired by the newly independent Port Authority, just because it is only in one business: so the only way for them to become more important and increase their revenues and status was to grow port activity. No one – as far as I know – ever looked at an alternate strategy. And certainly no-one did the very basic task of assessing what other ports were doing, or what other events were happening that might affect port traffic. “Present trends continue” is actually not a very good basis for planning, because often they don’t – other events intervene.

So the loss if the irreplacable ecosystem that used to occupy the mouth of the Fraser now seems to be ineviatble. Say farewell to the sand hill cranes, the sandpipers, the salmon, and all the rest. And for what? Nothing at all. The new port berths will be standing empty – mute testimony to the greed and self interest of a a very few people, and the gullibility of a great many.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 1, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Gateway, port expansion

One Response

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  1. Well, the craziness goes on. Now Campbell is talking about twinning the Yellowhead Highway 16 from Jasper to Prince Rupert. I suppose to assist truckers to compete with CN Rail and provide them more opportunity to pollute (sarcasm). Also, the northern Gateway talk keeps in spite of the completion of the Prince George airport run-way extension. See:

    Did you know that Prince George persuaded Horizon Airlines to insert a PG flight to Seattle with assurance of subsidy if their start-up were not economical? Of course it wasn’t, and Horizon won’t be flying to PG, and Horizon gets $150K of local money. The Abbotsford parking expansion (and charges) look pretty sound in comparison. See:

    Anyway, I doubt any twinning of the Yellowhead will be done, and I think the premier knows that. The same promise was made in the previous election for the Cariboo Highway – rebranded the Cariboo Connector, sounding as if the whole think would be twinned. Twinning the Simon Fraser Bridge barely got off the ground, and only a few kilometres of road has been twinned near Lac la Hache. I would expect the same inertia for the $14 billion Metro Vancouver transit plan, and, hold your breath, the South Fraser Perimeter Road – if federal money already alotted were torpedoed. The only work on the Cariboo Highway was that in which the federal government agreed to contribute substantially. Of course, both Cariboo ridings were lost to the NDP because of anger of the BC Rail sale and the constituents are unlikely surprised.

    So, the South Perimeter Road achilles heal is the federal money; get it withdrawn, and the trucking freeway will be aborted likely with Falcon wailing about the Feds ripping off BC.


    October 1, 2008 at 6:49 pm

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